Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Reading Your Way Through High School, a book gallery by grade

At my day job, I recently began making some RA tools for the youth services staff that highlighted novels for youth that featured a main character in each grade, K-12. I knew when I got to YA that it would be both harder and easier. Easier, because I’ve read a lot of YA and already had some books I wanted to recommend. Harder, because I knew that finding books that specified that a character was in the 9th or 10th grade would be harder. YA tends to skew towards the upper end of High School, featuring characters in their junior or senior year, and they are typically 17 years old. Middle grade tends to feature a character in middle school or typically in the 8th grade. So here are some of the titles that I have found that specificy the grade of the main character in high school. Please note, though I struggled to find books with 9th or 10th grade main characters, I could go on and on for 11th and 12th grade main characters. This is by no means a complete list. In fact, if you have recommendations please leave them in the comments.

Freshman Year of High School

Sophomore Year of High School

Junior Year of High School

Senior Year of High School

Book Review: Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Publisher’s description

Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr. 

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism—and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever. 

Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

Amanda’s thoughts

Sometimes a book is so wonderful and lovely and alive that I almost feel angry. I feel angry that I will have to leave the world of the story eventually, that someone can write so breathtakingly beautifully, that someone’s brain was able to come up with such a strange and special story. I finished this book and thought, well, great—now what am I supposed to do with myself? I mean that in the best way. In the way that you just had a great experience, and will never experience it in that same new and amazing way, and what, I’m just supposed to pick up some other book and pretend I’m not thinking about Orr and Iph and all their new friends?!

You can read the summary up above my thoughts. I’m not going to talk about what happens other than to say I felt completely wrapped up and brought along on the adventures Orr and Iph have while apart (and eventually together) in Portland. It’s the 90s, in this book (you know–that time I was a music-obsessed punk teen, an era my brain INSISTS on thinking was maybe 10 years ago—don’t correct me). The story is full of feminism and punk rock and adventure and magic and love. There’s poetry, theater, sex workers, books, beautiful weirdos in crummy apartments, mythology, fairytales, animals, and love love love. It’s a weird, dark, happy, sad, real, fantastical story. It’s serious and upsetting and whimsical and hopeful. Just go read it. This is a standout book about runaways finding what they need in the strangest of ways. Just lovely.

Review copy (finished hardcover) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781641291712
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/06/2021
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Book Mail: Anthologies, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more!

It’s only in the past few weeks that all three people in my household have been vaccinated. I took a year leave from school, my son did distance learning from March of 2020 thorough this entire past school year, and my husband has been working from home this whole time too. If there is an illness to get, my body will get it. So we really have been hunkered down at home forever, with little other human interaction. I’ve always been a huge fan of mail, but in the past year-plus, it’s pretty much been the highlight of my day. If I’m lucky, the neighbor’s dog will be out and will run over to nuzzle me while I get the mail. So to say that I am thrilled to be getting so much book mail again is an understatement. I’m glad for it for the sake of books going out again, ARCs arriving again, AND for delivering something fun to me most days.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything! But I really do try!

All descriptions from the publishers.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (ISBN-13: 9781984812537 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-17)

Get Out meets Holly Jackson in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Now You Say Yes by Bill Harley (ISBN-13: 9781682632475 Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Publication date: 08/01/2021, Ages 10-14)

When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Mari and is desperate to avoid being caught up in the foster system. Again. And to complicate matters, she is now the only one who can take care of her super-smart and on-the-spectrum nine-year-old stepbrother, Conor.

Is there anyone Mari can trust to help them? Certainly not her mother’s current boyfriend, Dennis. Not the doctors or her teachers, who would be obliged to call in social services. So in a desperate move, Mari takes Conor and sets out to find their estranged grandmother, hoping to throw themselves at the mercy of the only person who might take them in.

On their way to New England, the duo experiences the snarls of LA traffic, the backroads of the Midwest, and a monumental stop in Missouri where they witness the solar eclipse, an event with which Conor is obsessed. Mari also learns about the inner workings of her stepbrother’s mind and about her connections to him and to the world…and maybe even a little about her own place in it.

A beautiful exploration of identity and family, this heartwarming and engaging middle grade novel comes from renowned storyteller and two-time Grammy Award winner Bill Harley.

Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016632 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #1, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman shares her harrowing experience of being wrongly accused of terrorism.

Adama Bah grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and the people who lived there. But as a thirteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism.

With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life—the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accused brings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Hurricane: My Story of Resilience by Salvador Gomez-Colon, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016656 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #2, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young man shares how he combated Puerto Rico’s public health emergency after Hurricane Maria.

Suffering heavy damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rican communities lacked access to clean water and electricity. Salvador Gómez-Colón couldn’t ignore the basic needs of his homeland, and knew that nongovernmental organizations and larger foreign philanthropies could only do so much. With unstoppable energy and a deep knowledge of local culture, Salvador founded Light and Hope for Puerto Rico and raised more than $100,000 to purchase and distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to households in need.

With a voice that is both accessible and engaging, Salvador recalls living through the catastrophic storm and grappling with the destruction it left behind. Hurricane brings forward a captivating first-person account of strength, resilience, and determination, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn (ISBN-13: 9780525515609 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 12-17)

From Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award winner and Edgar Award nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and a powerful story of how friendship saves and heals.

When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday, she knows it’s going to be one of her mother’s difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. This one involves Amandla wearing a bedsheet loosely stitched as a dress. An outfit, her mother says, is certain to bring Amandla’s father back home, as if he were the prince and this was the fairytale ending their family was destined for. But in truth, Amandla’s father has long been gone—since before Amandla was born—and even her mother’s memory of him is hazy. In fact, many of her mother’s memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It’s just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks—that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is Black.

When Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother’s handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it’s finally time to get answers about her mother’s life. What she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever. But with her best friends at her side, Amandla is ready to take on family secrets and the devil himself. These Sugar Town queens are ready to take over the world to expose the hard truths of their lives.

Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury (Illustrator), Nate Powell (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419730696 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-18)

First you march, then you run. From the #1 bestselling, award–winning team behind March comes the first book in their new, groundbreaking graphic novel series, Run: Book One

To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.

A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert (ISBN-13: 9781635830651 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-18)

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2) by Jordan Ifueko (ISBN-13: 9781419739842 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 08/17/2021 Series: Raybearer Series, Ages 12-18)

The hotly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy about Tarisai’s quest to change her fate

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer (ISBN-13: 9781250822956 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 13-18)

Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman—after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’—and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know—she’d feel—if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover—or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely—and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help—from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young (ISBN-13: 9781250823724 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-18)

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora by Saraciea J. Fennell (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781250763426 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-18)

Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.

In Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. Full of both sorrow and joy, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is an essential celebration of this rich and diverse community. 

The bestselling and award-winning contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab by Priya Huq (ISBN-13: 9781419740190 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-18)

In this middle-grade graphic novel, Nisrin will have to rely on faith, friends, and family to help her recover after she is the target of a hate crime

Nisrin is a 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American girl living in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2002. As she nears the end of eighth grade, she gives a presentation for World Culture Day about Bangladesh while wearing a traditional cultural dress. On her way home, she is the victim of a hate crime when a man violently attacks her for wearing a headscarf.

Deeply traumatized by the experience, Nisrin spends the summer depressed and isolated. Other than weekly therapy, Nisrin doesn’t leave the house until fall arrives and it’s time for her to start freshman year at a new school. The night before class starts, Nisrin makes a decision. She tells her family she’s going to start wearing hijab, much to their dismay. Her mother and grandparent’s shocked and angry reactions confuse her—but they only strengthen her resolve.

This choice puts Nisrin on a path to not only discover more about Islam, but also her family’s complicated relationship with the religion, and the reasons they left Bangladesh in the first place. On top of everything else, she’s struggling to fit in at school—her hijab makes her a target for students and faculty alike. But with the help from old friends and new, Nisrin is starting to figure out what really makes her happy. Piece by Piece is an original graphic novel about growing up and choosing your own path, even if it leads you to a different place than you expected.

The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl (ISBN-13: 9781645673149 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 14-17)

Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman (ISBN-13: 9781984816702 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-17)

In this dark and twisty feminist historical mystery, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer’s plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her “aunt.” With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as a maid for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage’s coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share—for a price.

Molly’s estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt’s trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt’s property. Enigmatic Doctor LaValle’s lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (ISBN-13: 9781547604661 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 13-17)

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down. 

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand. 

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion—it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited. 

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most—but it’s still not enough. 

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first. 

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis (ISBN-13: 9781547606375 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-11)

Perfect for fans of Robert Beatty and Shannon Hale comes a magical new middle grade fantasy series about a young shapeshifter trying to save her family.

Deep within an enchanted forest lies a castle where a set of triplets and their sorceress mother have lived for years—safe from the decades-long war for the Raven Throne that rages in the kingdom. Cordelia, one of the triplets, has the power to become any animal with just a thought, and she yearns to discover more about the world outside her castle.

But one day, the world comes to her, when the eldest of the triplets becomes the newest heir to the throne. Knowing that being named heir means certain death, Cordelia’s mother hid the truth about which child is the eldest when she hid them in the forest. When her family is captured, it’s up to Cordelia to use her powers to keep her siblings hidden and discover the truth about the Raven Heir—before it’s too late.

From the author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a thrilling new fantasy full of magic, adventure, and the power of family.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames (ISBN-13: 9781645672067 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 14-17)

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider (ISBN-13: 9780593351024 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/21/2021 Series: Emry Merlin #1, Ages 14-17)

Channeling the modern humor of A Knight’s Tale, bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend. 

Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot! Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible lie, and Emry Merlin has arrived at the castle disguised as her twin brother since girls can’t practice magic.

Life at court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers, so what’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as a boy to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir up trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, and offend the prissy Princess Guinevere.

When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she’ll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (ISBN-13: 9780063008106 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 8-12)

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Meg Medina, this debut middle grade novel from award-winning author Mark Oshiro is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter (ISBN-13: 9781534445802 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 12-18)

A pair of fierce foes are forced to work together to save the arts at their school in this swoony YA enemies-to-lovers romance that fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson are sure to adore.

Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.

But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.

Except Natalie and Reid.

Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (ISBN-13: 9781250268396 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/28/2021 Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #1, Ages 13-18)

Once Upon a Broken Heart marks the launch of a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after from Stephanie Garber, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another. 

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman, Arielle Jovellanos (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534492974 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 12-18)

Moxie meets the world of animation in this fresh, unputdownable novel about a teen girl determined to prove herself in the boys’ club of her dream industry no matter what it takes.

Hayley Saffitz is confident, ambitious, and intent on following in the footsteps of her hero, renowned animation director, Bryan Beckett. When she’s given a spot in his once-in-a-lifetime summer program, Hayley devises a plan: snag one of the internship’s coveted directing opportunities. Dazzle Bryan with her talent. Secure a job post-graduation. Live her dream.

Except she doesn’t land one of the director positions. All of those go to boys. And one of them is Bryan’s son, Bear.

Despite Bear’s obvious apathy for the internship, Hayley soon realizes that there’s more to him than she expected. As they work together, the animosity between them thaws into undeniable chemistry and maybe something… more.

But Hayley can’t stop thinking about the chance she was refused.

Determined to make a name for herself, Hayley recruits the five other young women in the program to develop their own short to sneak into the film festival at the end of the summer. As the internship winds down, however, one question remains: Will Hayley conform to the expectations of her idol, or will she risk her blossoming relationship with Bear—and her future—to prove that she’s exactly as talented as she thinks she is?

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (ISBN-13: 9781645673323 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the critically acclaimed author of Deposing Nathan comes an explosive examination of identity, voice, and the indelible ways our stories are rewritten by others.

In the beginning, Owen’s story was blank . . . then he was befriended by Lily, the aspiring author who helped him find his voice. Together, the two have spent years navigating first love and amassing an inseparable friend group. But all of it is upended one day when his school’s administration learns Owen’s secret: that he was sexually assaulted by a classmate.

In the ensuing investigation, everyone scrambles to hold their worlds together. 

Owen, still wrestling with his self-destructive thoughts and choices. 

His father, a mission-driven military vet ready to start a war to find his son’s attacker. 

The school bureaucrats, who seem most concerned with kowtowing to the local media attention. 

And Lily, who can’t learn that Owen is the mystery victim everyone is talking about . . . because once she does, it will set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

Heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a coming-of-age story that explores how we rebuild after the world comes crumbling down.

Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman (ISBN-13: 9781534482531 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 10/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

In the debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman comes a poignant and powerful coming-of-age story that follows a young girl and her new friend as they learn about family, friendship, allyship, and finding your way in a complicated world.

It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.

Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.

Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.

Hunting by Stars: (A Marrow Thieves Novel) by Cherie Dimaline (ISBN-13: 978-1-64700-247-3 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 12-17)

From the acclaimed author of The Marrow Thieves comes a thrilling new story about hope and survival that New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley called “a revelatory must-read”

Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.

Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales, Cale Dietrich (ISBN-13: 9781250805805 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 12/07/2021, Ages 13-18)

Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s “If This Gets Out is an absolute showstopper! Equal parts edgy and adorable, this bright, joyful book has everything I look for in a queer YA romance.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (ISBN-13: 9781250785060 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 12-18)

Meg Long’s Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths. 

On a frozen wasteland of a planet, a girl is on the run with a wolf who is born to be a killer but bound to be her guide. As they fight to escape ice goblins, giant bears, and a ruthless leader intent on trapping them both, one question drives them relentlessly forward: where do you turn when there is nowhere to hide?

#FactsMatter: Nonfiction Graphic Novel Series for Tweens and Teens

So this year we are trying to talk more about nonfiction. So how about some nonfiction in graphic novel form? There are a lot of great nonfiction graphic novel series out there, including some great biographies (They Called Us Enemy by George Takei and Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka), a lot at Civil Rights (The March series by John Lewis), and even a look at the events of 9/11. Today, though, I want to share some ongoing nonfiction graphic novel series with you. Sometimes I just like series because I like to have items that are connected under the same heading and branding.

Big Ideas That Changed the World

The Big Ideas That Changed the World series by Abrams takes a look at – well – big ideas that changed the world. There are currently 3 books and they look at vaccines, computers and the rocket to the moon. I hope they add more titles to the series.

History Comics

There are more than 3 books in the History Comics series by Macmillan and they cover some pretty interesting topics, including the Challenger disaster and the mystery of the Roanoke Colony. For people who maybe don’t love history – and by people, I might mean me – it can be a great way to dive into topics you want to learn more about but don’t want to read through long, heavy tomes.

Science Comics

Look, more science! This series is also by Macmillan. There are around 25 titles in this series and they cover a good variety of topics, including the digestive system, coral reefs, and plagues. Again, it’s a great introduction to topics with a fun, stylistic approach.

Maker Comics

What do you know, it’s another nonfiction graphic novel series by Macmillan. This series covers great topics with a very how to approach and it’s great for the maker movement. From cooking to gardening to understanding the basics of the scientific method, you’ll find something for everyone in one of these 9 titles. This is another series I hope continues for a long time.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

Back to history for this series, which is once again by Abrams. This covers a wide variety of topics and blends fun with informative. I love this it covers topics like the Donner party and spies. And for your Hamilton fans, there is one on Lafeyette.

Graphic novels are wicked popular and a great for a wide variety of people (they’re not just for kids!) And it’s great to see that more and more graphic novels are tackling nonfiction, which is also very popular (and not just for kids!) Facts are fun, and we want to raise up a generation of informed and information seeking readers, so I’m so glad that these series exist.

For more of our #FactsMatter posts, check out the archvies

Life as a Literary Agent and an Author: The Good and the Bad and Everything in Between, a guest post by Katelyn Detweiler

Sometimes, on especially chaotic and sleep deprived days, I can’t help but to question my life decisions—specifically, the choice to be both a literary agent and an author, to surround myself with manuscripts and words and publishing all day every day, weekdays and weekends, daytime and nighttime. (Working fulltime from home with a two-year-old wild child, I should add!) The words, the sentences, one long paragraph after another… they’re always there. Inescapable. It’s a lot, to take what is one of your greatest passions—books, stories, writing—and turn it into not just one job, but two. At this point in life, I maybe read one book a year purely for pleasure, two if I’m lucky, and even then, my brain is stubbornly in editorial mode as I go along. What notes would I have had, if the book was one of my authors’ projects? What could have made this character stronger, that theme clearer? Is this scene necessary? Is that idea overstated? 

So yes, as I said… it’s a lot. But there’s a reason I made the decision to submerge myself daily in words, a veritable waterfall of them, and a reason I still stand by that choice at the end of every single day—and wouldn’t change a thing, not really, not ever. The truth is, I live for these words. To create my own, but much more than that, to watch so many other writers create, too. To walk alongside authors on their grand writing journeys, helping to take dreams and turn them into realities. Honestly, it never gets old. Particularly The Phone Call, telling a writer their manuscript will someday be an actual published book on people’s shelves. (Admittedly, sometimes I weep as much as they do!) But I’m here for every part of it, the good and the bad and all the daily in between. 

I was an agent first and foremost. I graduated from Penn State with an English degree and my eyes set on publishing, and nothing else. No Plan B. I started in the marketing department of Macmillan Children’s, a great way to get a broad perspective on all the many roles in publishing, and then soon moved to the agenting side. I wanted to be more hands-on with authors, more hands-on with text. While I’d always dabbled in my own writing from an early age, I liked the prospect of it more than the actual craft. Besides, it was scary enough to move from my small town in Pennsylvania to work in New York City publishing—that was a gigantic enough dream on its own. It felt too absurd to think I could be an author, too. That felt like saying I wanted to be a rock star or a princess. Impossible.

But then a few years into agenting, I had an idea. A pregnant teen virgin in our day and age. What would her parents say, her best friends, her boyfriend? I had the idea, and that idea was outrageously stubborn. The idea screamed YOU MUST WRITE ME, and so one day, I sat down and I did. I wrote paragraphs that became pages that eventually, somehow, magically became a full manuscript. And then my amazing boss Jill Grinberg read it and said she’d… be my agent. Boss/agent/mentor/friend all rolled up into one. It was a dream I never would have dared to have for myself. The project sold—IMMACULATE, and an unwritten companion novel—and I became two things: agent and author.

Four books in, I still mostly identify myself as agent. When people ask what I do, that’s what I say. The natural instinct. Usually my husband or mom or someone else will chime in that I’m also an author. Oh, right. It’s not that I forget, but it’s also not what I spend every day focusing on. Being present and available for my authors is priority number one, work-wise. It drives and defines most of my weekdays, sunup to sundown, when I’m not building LEGO trucks or cleaning up smoothie puddles or combating epic toddler bedtime battles. Agenting makes it possible to write, and writing “on the side”—in whatever slivers of free time I can find—makes writing still feel like a hobby. Or hobby-adjacent, at least, even if it’s not always necessarily for joy. There are joyful days, sure. But I wouldn’t say I write because it fills me with joy. I write because once I started, nearly a decade ago now, I couldn’t stop. 

I always say when I’m talking to prospective clients that writing has made me a better agent. And I believe it’s true, wholeheartedly. I’ve been on the other side of the process—the editorial letters, the copy edits, the cover debates, the push for more promotion and support. I’ve been at a big publisher, I’ve been at an indie. I’ve lived and breathed the rollercoaster of birthing a book baby four times over, the many highs and the many lows. 

No matter how much you know, though, from either side of the lane, publishing a book never gets less scary. THE PEOPLE WE CHOOSE, my latest novel, was no exception. In fact, it was probably the trickiest one yet. The one I needed to sit on the most, taking time—years, really—to fully think through my idea and my goals before writing a single word. The hardest one to plot out once I started, and the hardest one to edit, time and time again, to make sure I got it right and did the message justice. It’s not a straightforward story—a girl who, upon turning eighteen, discovers that her sperm donor is the father of her next-door neighbor turned recent love interest. It’s a complicated exploration of family and how we love, who we love. The different kinds of love, and how love can shift and evolve over time. 

Most days I feel like agenting and authoring combined has given me a thicker skin—I love my clients’ projects deeply and wholly, so every rejection is personal, even if I didn’t write the words myself. There’s been a lot of rejection over the years, because the truth is, more projects than not aren’t sold at auction. There’s one perfect editor, one love match, and that’s okay. It only takes one. But that means for every YES, there might be fifteen, twenty, twenty-five (or more!) NOs. Publishing is not for the faint of heart. Not as an author, and not as an agent. Rejection, criticism, disappointment, it’s all part of the process. For my books just as much as for my authors’ books. I’m still human, though. Bad reviews sting, a particularly blunt rejection hurts. Seeing more of it, experiencing rejection in some form or another on a weekly if not daily basis, helps put it into perspective, though: publishing is maddeningly subjective. But true talent rises up. Great stories find their way.

I’ve rambled now, haven’t I? I set out to write about pros and cons of being in both lanes, but really this has become a messy love letter to words and stories. Books are (aside from my family, of course) my Great Love in this life. There’s no other way for me. No other path. 

The days are long, but they’re the best possible days. Now excuse me while I go make another cup of coffee.

Meet the author

Katelyn Detweiler is the author of several books for young adults, including The Undoing of Thistle Tate and The People We Choose. She is also a literary agent and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About The People We Choose

When 17-year-old Calliope meets her new neighbor Max, their connection is instantaneous, but the revelation of her sperm donor’s identity changes everything.

Calliope Silversmith has always had just two friends in her small Pennsylvania town, Ginger and Noah, and she’s fine with that. She’s never wanted anything more than her best friends, her moms, their house in the woods, and their family-run yoga studio—except maybe knowing who her sperm donor is. Her curiosity has been building for years, and she can finally find out this summer when she turns eighteen.

Then Max and his family move into the house across the woods from Calliope, and she immediately feels a special connection with her new neighbor, one that feels different than just friendship. The stability of her longtime trio wavers over the next few weeks as she and Max start to spend more time together.

But when Calliope makes contact with her sperm donor she learns a surprising truth: her donor is Max’s father. How is this even possible?

As she and Max struggle to redefine their friendship now that they know they’re half-siblings, Calliope realizes she has much to gain by recognizing and accepting that family is both the one she has been born into, and the one she chooses to make.

Perfect for readers looking for stories about family dynamics and fans of The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend.

ISBN-13: 9780823446643
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

Ballet and Rock & Roll – and Writing Beyond What You Know, a guest post by Brianna Bourne

The first time I saw Swan Lake, I was eleven, sitting in the front row watching a red velvet curtain rise on darkness. A single beam of light revealed a blanket of what looked like snow on the stage. But it wasn’t snow—it was dry ice. The swans were folded over, hidden beneath it. As they rose up, the dry ice poured toward me, racing over the lip of the stage to cool my face like a breath of night.

A group of birds flying in the air

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(Swan Lake by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Image: Andrew Ross)

I didn’t know then that I’d one day work backstage for major ballet companies—that I’d be the one wearing a headset and calling the cues for the dry ice machine to turn on, for the lights to change, for the curtain to rise.

And I didn’t know that a few years after that, I’d publish a book with a main character who was an elite ballet dancer.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the old writing adage, “Write what you know.” On one hand, writing what you know can be a wonderful thing. There’s something so compelling about a story that peels back the curtain on a specialist hobby or profession. It’s pure magic when I read about a character who is an elite gymnast or a champion canoeist or a country music singer, and by the time I’ve turned the last page, I feel like I’m the gymnast or the racer or the singer.

Do I know ballet? Sure. I know the terminology, I can (very crudely) replicate a pas de chat or a penché, and I’ve been known to do a few chaînés if I find myself in a large empty room. When I wasn’t on tour, I spent forty hours a week in a rehearsal studio with jaw-droppingly talented dancers.

But I’m not a ballerina, by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s what writing is, right? A stretch of the imagination.

I certainly stretched the limits of “Write what you know” when I turned my love of 80s rock into my second main character’s talent/passion. For years as I drafted and revised, every car ride was filled with the electric, hair-raising energy of Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Dokken, Scorpions. I loved every second of that very serious book research.

A group of people posing for the camera

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(Guns N’ Roses)

“He was a punk, she did ballet” might have been enough to carry a lighter contemporary YA romance, but I blew the lid off writing what I knew when I decided my book would follow the last girl and boy in the world after they wake up to a silent, empty city.

But even that, somehow, felt like writing what I knew: I remember once, when I was sixteen or seventeen, I woke up long past noon to find my house empty. It was unnaturally quiet, and even the angle of the sun pouring in through the windows unsettled me. It turned out that my mom wasn’t far—out in the backyard having an argument with the A/C unit—but for a few heart-stopping minutes, it felt deeply wrong.

At their core, stories are a cookie-crumb trail of emotions. And we are all intimately familiar with the kaleidoscope of human emotion. Fear, love, hope, intrigue, skepticism, desperation, embarrassment—we are each witness to thousands of moments daily that make micro-impacts on our feelings. And that’s where I find myself writing what I know: in those moments where we get a concentrated dose of an emotion so pure it makes our breath catch.

I’m not an elite ballet dancer, and I’m not a rock musician. I haven’t woken up alone in an empty world. But I am a writer. And it’s my job to imagine situations and settings, to climb into a character’s body and mind and heart, and then somehow shape all of that into words on a page. Words that can miraculously transfer those tiny, concentrated moments of emotion to someone else.

So I’ll keep writing what I know—and what I don’t know. One day, maybe I’ll have a clearer answer on whether “Write what you know” is good writing advice.

But that day is not today.

Meet the author

Photo credit: Barnaby Aldrick

When Brianna Bourne is not writing, she works as a stage manager for ballet companies around the world. Originally from Texas, Brianna grew up in Indonesia and Egypt and now lives in England with her rock musician husband and their two daughters. You & Me At the End of the World is her debut novel. You can find out more about her on her website, and she can be followed on Twitter and Instagram.

About You & Me at the End of the World

This is no ordinary apocalypse…

Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be the hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too much of a disaster for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.

Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.

Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation. But while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.

ISBN-13: 9781338712636
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/20/2021
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

Moments with TLT; By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Teen Librarian Toolbox has been a part of my life for the past ten years. That means my mom must have started this whole website when I was just eight years old. Obviously, I have not been writing full posts for that long, but TLT has been such a large part of my life. It has given me so many moments and books to look back on, so that’s what I’m going to do.

All the book events– I have been to multiple book events where I have gotten to sit through panels of some of my favorite authors and talk to some of them. Not many people get to go to as many panels as I’ve been to, and it’s such a great pleasure. Just sitting there and seeing them is always so special. I’ve even been able to hug some of them and have them talk to me. It’s like a little reader’s dream.

Receiving so many books– I have always been an avid reader, and because of TLT there is never a shortage of books in our house. Whenever I feel like reading I can just go to the cart of books and know that there will be something new in whatever genre I feel like reading. It’s like a never ending supply, and my mom has already made a promise to continue sending some of them to me while I’m away at college.

Riley’s favorite author is A. S. King, whom she has met twice and has a small collection of a large number of titles from her. One day she hopes to get a complete collection.

ARC Parties– It’s been so long since one of these has been done, but I still remember doing them. Sitting at the kitchen counter and reading out the summaries and laughing or thinking about how interesting a book sounded. It was always good fun and I knew after that I would take a stack of those books back to my room and start reading one later on.

The special feeling– I’ve gotten letters from some of the authors who’s books I’ve read, and it always made me feel so special. It always meant so much to me knowing that they knew I was reading their books and they wanted me to enjoy their book. I still have those letters and all the signed bookmarks and other things. I love every single one of those items.

Riley, Kylie and A. S. King

The signed books– After the signed bookmarks, there was usually a signed book. I have a whole shelf filled with books that have been signed. Their kept separately from my other books because a good portion of them are made out to me. A lot of my favorite comfort reads are on that shelf, like Puddin’ by Julie Murphy and I Crawl Through It by A.S. King. I wish I could take all of them to college with me, but at least I know they’ll always be waiting for me back at home.

Actually talking to the authors– Because of TLT I have been able to talk to actual authors. I have had whole conversations with some of them. I have interviewed Sarah Dessen and April Henry. I mean, how many kids get to do that? Those were big moments for me, and I will never forget them.

The friendship– I share the books I read with my friends. After I finish reading one I usually send it to my friend so she can read it too. We text about those people just need to kiss already or how annoying that one character is. We’ve also probably used our shared love of reading to get on the good side of some English teachers, just in case. Reading is a huge part of our friendship, and I’m sure it always will be.

Mom– Our shared love of reading is actually really big to my mom and I. We go to book events together and read a lot of the same books. It gives us something to talk about and bring us closer together.

More mom– Also, TLT has given my mom a space where she can talk about the things she loves. It’s so nice to see her doing she loves.

Finally, the support– I have gotten so much from the people who read TLT. I have received advice about college and well-wishes and even money. All of it has helped so much as I’m about to undergo a huge change in my life and I am extremely grateful. In case you missed it, here’s me saying thank you.

TLT has been a part of my life that has given so much to me. I hope it continues to be that large part of my life for much longer. These ten years have been filled with so much love and support, and I’m glad I’ve had that.

Collaboration is the Key: Notes from Co-Writing an Early Chapter Book Series, a guest post by Laura Brown and Elly Kramer

Although many great reads are penned by a single author, collaboration has been key to our writing process. We both got our start in children’s educational television where there is often a writer’s room. Under the leadership of a show’s creator(s), team members contribute ideas about character, setting, and story, and often provide notes at every stage in the scripting process. Because of this background, collaboration felt like the natural way to write an early chapter book series, too.

Educators and business leaders have emphasized the importance of collaboration for some time now. 21st Century learning identifies collaboration as one of the primary learning and innovation skills for the future (P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning). According to research from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2018), more than 80 percent of mid to large size employers prioritize collaboration skills in new hires.  Here’s the story of how our collaboration came to be and the benefits it has afforded us.

A partnership is formed

Like so many great partnerships, ours was formed in the ladies room!  We were in Toronto, participating in a writer’s room for a new television series. Elly was serving as Development Executive and Laura was Curriculum and Research Director. But we both secretly wanted to write scripts, too. When we ended up together in the ladies room, Elly popped the question, “Do you want to write scripts with me?” The answer was “Yes!” and the deal was sealed.  

Inspiration for Trillium Sisters

After we had written four scripts together, we started to explore other ideas. Elly had always wanted to write about families. It felt like a universally appealing starting point.  Although every family is different, we all have one! Plus, we know how important and grounding family is for  our readers.

We both were excited, too, to explore what we call modern princess magic –strong girls solving their own problems. But we wanted there to be strong men and boys, too, all working together to raise each other up. That’s why we created a family with three sisters and a little brother headed by a nurturing father.

When Laura went skiing in Colorado, she found a world for this family. She was enjoying a gentle run down the mountain when she came upon a beautiful stand of Douglas Firs.  She found herself imagining who might live beyond those trees. Perhaps there was a village where people lived in treehouses, ziplined to work, and felt completely connected to the animals and nature on the mountain. Laura wanted every child to experience this beautiful alpine world. When she returned and told Elly about the setting, Elly was just as excited. With the world, characters and major themes settled, we began to brainstorm story ideas.

The Nitty Gritty: How We Write Together

Crafting an entire book series is different, of course, than writing a script. Through trial and error, we’ve found a process that preserves the benefits of co-writing but also ensures efficiency and consistency in the writing.

First, we brainstorm story ideas together. Because we live far apart, this often involves a zoom meeting and huge steaming cups of coffee. But it’s a lot of fun, probably our favorite part of the process.

Once we find an idea we both love, we outline the story together. This is a long process and involves a great deal of revision. When we feel we have the main beats of the story, one of us then takes primary responsibility for writing the book. This works well because we’re writing a series. We each take primary writing responsibility for half the books. While one person writes, the other acts like an editor, reading and revising what’s produced. The editor might punch up the dialogue, suggest a plot turn, or help the primary author get “unstuck” when she reaches an unexpected obstacle.

What We’ve Learned

As we reflect on what has and hasn’t worked well, there are some clear takeaways. First, choose your partner(s) thoughtfully. The most helpful partners have strengths that don’t duplicate but complement your own.  Second, speak your thoughts aloud. Your partner can’t guess what you’re thinking! Share the half-baked idea you just can’t get out of your head. Research shows discussion helps collaborators find connections among seemingly disparate ideas (Sparks, 2017). Also, remember to tell your partner what’s important to you and discuss conflicts as soon as they arise. And finally, be sure to ‘Yes and’ your partner. ‘Yes anding’ means accepting what someone says and then building on it. We have found ‘yes and’ leads to hidden gems that might not be apparent in the original idea.

Our book series, Trillium Sisters, is about three sisters who are learning to work together and find greater strength through teamwork. That’s what we’ve been doing, too, in our collaborative writing. Our partnership has helped us to be more creative and accountable. Most importantly though, we’ve enjoyed the writing more because it’s a shared experience. We wish you and your students happy and fruitful writing collaborations.

References

P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning. A network of battelleforkids. Framework brief. Retrieved from: https://www.battelleforkids.org/networks/p21/frameworks-resources

Sparks, S.D. (2017). Children must be taught to collaborate, studies say. Education Week. Retrieved from: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/children-must-be-taught-to-collaborate-studies-say/2017/05

Watson, C.E. and McConnell, K.D. (2018). What really matters for employment? Association of American Colleges and Universities Liberal Education, 104(4). Retrieved from: https://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/2018/fall/watson_mcconnell

Meet the authors

Trillium Sisters is co-written by educational television veterans, Laura Brown and Elly Kramer. You can follow them on instagram at @laurabrownauthor and @ellykramerauthor.

Laura, an educational psychologist, has served as Content Expert or Curriculum Director on over 50 children’s television series at Nick Jr., Disney Junior, Netflix, Spin Master Entertainment and many others worldwide. She is currently Curriculum Director at WarnerMedia Preschool/Cartoonito. Laura resides in Northern New Jersey, but in another life she would gladly live in a treehouse in the forest.

Elly is a senior creative executive with over 19 years of experience leading the development of innovative content. She is currently Head of Animation for Imagine Entertainment’s Kids and Family division. Previously, she was VP of Production and Development with Nickelodeon. A lifelong New Yorker, Elly currently resides in Los Angeles.

Sunday Reflections: On the Launch, sending your child to college and letting them be themselves – a guest post by Amianne Bailey

When Riley was in the 3rd grade, she joined a Girl Scout Troop for a year. Though she didn’t like being a Girl Scout, she met and became best friends with a young girl named Landry. Landry is amazing and we love her.

The two of them recently graduated together and their friendship has been a blessing. Landry is the daughter of an amazing high school librarian, Amianne Bailey. These two girls have a lot in common: readers, daughters of teen librarians . . . and they both struggle with anxiety. Like Riley, Landry has chosen to be open about her struggles in order to help raise awareness and decrease stigma. With Landry’s permission, Amianne recently wrote an essay about raising a child with anxiety and getting ready to send that child to college.

This is a powerful and important essay and I hope you will read it so today we are doing Sunday Reflections a bit differently and I am asking you to please read this post . . .

TLT Turns 10: Thing 2’s Top 10 Favorite Graphic Novels



As you know, my 12-year-old, sometimes called Scout and sometimes called Thing 2 (neither of which are her real name), has dyslexia. She has bravely chosen to talk openly about it here and in her life to raise awareness and because she doesn’t want to feel shame and thinks that no one else should. 1 in 5 people have dyslexia, and she just happens to be one of them. So she doesn’t love reading, but she has recently developed a fondness for graphic novels. She has shared her thoughts on them over the last few years and today she wants to share her Top 10 for the 10 year anniversary of TLT. Like a lot of people with dyslexia, she also doesn’t love writing either, so we have created this gallery for you without comment. I will tell you as a youth services librarian, middle grade graphic novels are hugely popular and the titles on this list are all great choices and not just popular with my tween/teen, but a lot of them. To learn more about dyslexia and to read Scout’s story, visit our Dyslexia Dashboard here at TLT.